Intimate Partner Violence: Your Legal Rights
Survivors of intimate partner violence have several avenues for redress, if they choose. The following provides a brief explanation of these options. You may also find helpful this information regarding the roles of persons in the criminal justice system, some of whom are referred to below.
This involves making a report to the police or to the local magistrate in which the abuse took place. Criminal prosecution might result in imprisonment of the abuser, or perhaps mandatory attendance in a batterers' intervention program. It could also result in probation, depending on the circumstances and the judge who hears the case. Generally speaking, most abusive individuals will only attend batterers' intervention groups if the court forces them.
- Protective Orders
- A protective order is a legal document issued by a state court that orders one person to stop harming another, and can include phone calls, emails, approaching within a specified distance of the victim, contacting the victim's family or friends, and more.
- The Commonwealth has several different types of orders and their availability is dependent on the type of abusive conduct and the relationship between the abuser and abused. A good overview of the types of orders in the Commonwealth.
- If an abuser violates a Protective Order, police are required by law to make an arrest. Protective orders can be useful tools, and may be worth the time and effort of securing them.
- The process for making a criminal complaint or obtaining a protective order can be quite complicated and difficult. The University Police Department has a victim advocate who can assist students, faculty and staff with information about these processes and can accompany victims to court or the magistrate. Contact the University Police Department at 434-924-7166 and ask to speak with the victim advocate, Angela Tabler. The Women's Center and the Office of the Dean of Students can also provide assistance with these processes or make contact with University Police on behalf of University community members. Outside the University, both the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle have victim-witness advocates who can walk you through the process of obtaining a protective order or other type of no-contact order.
A civil suit is an action brought by a private attorney against the abuser and may be an option for collecting damages and recovering costs relating to moving, therapy, and so on, if the batterer has any financial resources at all. One doesn't have to sue for money, however. It is possible to sue to force the abuser to get therapy, to return certain items, and so on.